The Xanth effect

I’m perfectly fine!

Thank you for your prayers and well-wishes! So much time has now passed since the unfortunate double meal, it really seems I will avoid my punishment this time. Of course, just waiting for the ax to fall has been a learning experience in itself.

Today I want to talk about another fascinating aspect of the human mind. I have called it the Xanth effect, after the long series of light fantasy novels by Piers Anthony. I am myself a foreigner to English, learning it as a third language. As an adult, I had my vocabulary extended, expanded and enhanced by the Xanth books like many American youngsters. However, like them I gradually found the later books less appealing than the first. This seems to be quite common. However, there is a big difference: My first Xanth books are not their first Xanth books.

The series debuted in Norway in its middle.  My first Xanth book was Heaven Cent, if I remember correctly. (Somehow I keep remembering it as “Skeleton Key” instead.) It was love at first sight. I had been writing for years, but the mix of puns, magic, drama and just random randomness was something I knew I could do better than anything I had done before. It influenced my own writing for many years. My fiction on the YouthNet BBS network was in my most heavily Piers-influenced phase.

I also loved the next books, Man from Mundania in particular but also parts of Isle of View.  I kept enjoying some of the later books, but eventually I found them lackluster. However, around this time new prints of the earlier books became available, so I bought some of them.  They were even worse.

Yes, dear reader. The quality of the Xanth books declined with the number of Xanth books I read, not with the number of Xanth books Piers Anthony wrote. The order of reading, not the order of writing, determined how good they were. In other words, it was all in my head.

The same effect, only faster, is observed with David Eddings’ epic fantasy books. Then again, they are basically the same book written over and over, if you skip the details. Of course, some people don’t skip the details.

I wonder if the same does not apply to my journal, but it is hard to be objective with oneself.  But just in case, just ask for your money back. ^_^